Pandya, Jadeja power India to 13-run win, avoid whitewash

Agencies
December 2, 2020

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Canberra, Dec 2: India, riding on a 150-run partnership between Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja for the sixth wicket and a three-wicket haul from Shardul Thakur, pulled off a 13-run consolation win in a closely fought the third and final One-day International and avoided conceding a clean sweep to Australia here at the Manuka Oval.

Australia took the ODI series 2-1.

Glenn Maxwell's 59 off 38 at the back-end of Australia innings threatened to take the game away from India, who had the Aussies on the mat at 158 five wickets after scoring 302 for five wickets in their 50 overs.

However, with Australia needing 35 off 33 deliveries, Maxwell tried to back away to a Jasprit Bumrah yorker and was bowled. The Aussie tail, which can bat, however found it tough and fell short.

Earlier, half-centuries from Pandya, Jadeja as well as skipper Virat Kohli helped India set up a competitive 303-run target.

Winning the toss for the first time in the series, India, who had already lost the series, Kohli opted to bat as the visitors made four changes in their line-up -- Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, and debutant T Natarajan replacing Mayank Agarwal, Navdeep Saini, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Mohammed Shami.

India got off to a decent start as Shikhar Dhawan and Gill added 26 runs before the former became the first scalp of pacer Sean Abbott. Kohli, who came into bat at number three, then stitched a 56-run partnership with Gill and brought the Indian innings back on track.

However, just when India looked all set for a big total, the two Australia spinners -- Adam Zampa (1/45) and Ashton Agar (2/44) -- came into action and shared three wickets (Gill 33, Shreyas Iyer 19 and KL Rahul 5) among themselves to bring Australia on top with India reeling at 123/4 in the 26th over.

Pandya then joined forces with Kohli who scored his 60th ODI fifty and in the process also became the fastest batsman to score 12,000 ODI runs. However, Josh Hazlewood, who has been Kohli's nemesis in the last three ODIs against Australia, once again got the big wicket of the India skipper who went back to the pavilion after scoring 63 runs off 78 balls.

Jadeja and Pandya then steadily helped India recover and took their time to get used to the pace of the wicket. Once they got settled, the duo went all guns blazing in the death overs and collected boundaries at will to power India to 302 in their allotted 50 overs.

The duo shared an unbeaten 150 run partnership off just 108 balls as Pandya and Jadeja remained not out at 92 (76 balls; seven 4s, one 6) and 66 (50 balls; five 4s and three 6s respectively

Later, the Indian bowlers kept getting wickets at regular intervals with Australia opening the batting with Marnus Labuschagne in place of David Warner, who could not play this game due to injury.

Unlike the last two games, the Aussies could not have a good opening partnership with Labuschagne getting dismissed for seven.

Steve Smith, who made centuries in the first two matches of the series, failed to make an impact scoring just seven.

Maxwell came into bat with Australia at 158 for five in just over 30 overs, needing another 145 to overhaul India's total.

The right-handed batsman, who was dismissed just when the Aussies were closing in on a win, hit two sixes off Jadeja's one over and then launched into debutant T Natarajan and took 18 runs off his eighth over along with Ashton Agar to tilt the balance Australia's way in a humdinger. But after his dismissal, it all fell apart for the hosts.

Brief scores: India 302/5 (Hardik Pandya 92 not out, Ravindra Jadeja 66 not out; Ashton Agar 2/44) beat Australia 289 all out in 49.3 overs (A Finch 75, G Maxwell 59, S Thakur 3/51, J Bumrah 2/43, T Natarajan 2/70) by 13 runs.

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Agencies
January 14,2021

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Mumbai, Jan 14: Opener Mohammed Azharuddeen cracked the second-fastest T20 century -- 100 off 37 balls -- to help Kerala maul host Mumbai by eight wickets in an Elite E match of the T20 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Wednesday.

Although Azharuddeen missed by a mere five balls the record of Rishabh Pant, his effort was the joint-third-fastest century by an Indian.

Chasing Mumbai's 196 for seven wickets in 20 overs, Kerala made 201 for the loss of just two wickets in just 15.5 overs and collected four points at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Thanks to Azharuddeen's 54-ball 137 not out, Kerala posted their highest total of the tournament while chasing a target.

Azharuddeen, 26, who became the first Kerala player to score a century in the tournament, scored the runs at an amazing strike rate of 253.70, thanks to nine boundaries and 11 sixes, as he and guest player Robin Uthappa (33 off 23 balls) added 129 run for the opening wicket. After that partnership, it was smooth sailing for Kerala.

Pant scored his hundred off 32 balls for Delhi against Himachal Pradesh in Delhi in 2018. Rohit Sharma's 35-ball century against Sri Lanka in a T20 International is the second fastest among Indians. Azharuddeen's 37-ball ton equalled Yusuf Pathan's century for Rajasthan Royals against the Mumbai Indians in the 2010 IPL.

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Agencies
January 15,2021

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Brisbane, Jan 15: The incredible underdog fairytale of Thangarasu Natarajan got better with his twin strikes on debut headlining a commendable effort from an inexperienced Indian bowling attack, which reduced Australia to 274 for 5 despite a stylish hundred from Marnus Labuschagne on the opening day of the final Test.

The Indian attack, with a collective experience of 3 Tests and 10 balls and 11 wickets in its kitty, was pitted against a batting line-up with 59 hundreds.

After 87 overs, the two Tamil Nadu rookies Natarajan (20-2-63-2) and Washington Sundar (2-4-63-1) could hold their heads high for a lion-hearted effort on a good batting pitch in the absence of the injured Ravichandran Ashwin and Jasprit Bumrah.

If tall off-spinner Washington set up a nice little trap to get rid of Steve Smith (36 off 77 balls), Natarajan forced centurion Labuschagne (108 off 204 balls) and Matthew Wade (47 off 85 balls) to miscue their pull-shots after a 113-run stand which threatened to put India in a spot.

At stumps, Tim Paine (38) and Cameron Green (28) had added 61 runs for the sixth wicket and the visitors would need a few quick wickets to keep the first innings total within a manageable range.

The distance between Palayampatti, a non-descript village in Tamil Nadu's Salem, to Australia's modern city Brisbane is 9035 km on a google map.

But add the hardships of a daily wager mother trying to put food on table, being called for suspect action early in his career, not being privileged enough to get a paternity leave (his daughter is already three months old), it's a million miles emotionally that Team India's favourite "Nattu" has traversed.

Getting Labuschagne, who was on a rampage, with a short delivery ensured that Australia didn't finish the day with a score close to 350.

For someone, who was supposed to be a net bowler, India's Test Cap No 300, did well enough on the first day despite not exactly being a natural. He also knows that he doesn't have the express pace to trouble batsmen (his average speed is 130 plus).

He bowled full during his first two spells and made the length shorter when the ball got old and that's how he induced Wade and Labuschagne to go for those pull shots.

Nobody would have blamed a Natarajan or a Shardul or "leader of the attack" Mohammed Siraj (19-8-51-1), all of whom toiled manfully throughout their multiple spells in a battle of unequals.

The inexperience was palpable as Thakur (18-5-67-1) bowled a lot of full pitched deliveries which Labuschagne pounced on in the second and third sessions during an innings that had nine boundaries.

If all the injuries weren't enough, Navdeep Saini (7.5 overs) now seems to be in trouble as he has sustained a groin niggle moments after his skipper Ajinkya Rahane dropped a dolly at gully when Labuschagne was on 37.

By far, Australia's most consistent batsman in the series, Labuschagne batted in two gears during the day.

In the first session, he faced 82 balls and sedately moved to 19 but in the next 113 balls, scored another 82 runs to reach his fifth hundred in 195 balls.

He trusted the bounce, hit some lovely drives and was also ready to pull anything that was short.

During his partnership with Smith, the former Australian skipper was the aggressor but Washington, a specialist batsman till 2016 and now a frontline off-spinner, with the help of his seniors -- skipper Rahane and his deputy Rohit Sharma -- laid a beautiful trap.

Washington had bowled three maiden overs prior to lunch and the fidgety Smith, who is always looking to get a move on, fell for the leg trap that was set for him.

Rohit stationed himself at short mid-wicket for a whip that Smith plays on the on-side.

They were banking on the extra bounce that they had seen Washington generate with the white ball.

The plan worked as Smith flicked one straight into Rohit's hands just few minutes after the lunch.

Having lost four of their key players (Bumrah, Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Hauma Vihari) due to various injuries, Rahane couldn't have lost a worst toss as Tim Paine elected to bat.

The new-look Indian bowling line-up kept it steady at the onset removing openers David Warner and Marcus Harris in the first session.

That Australia forced a half-fit Warner (1) to play was evident when he had no apparent footwork while trying to drive an angular delivery from Siraj, which was brilliantly snapped by an agile Rohit diving to his right.

It could be seen that Warner, after his groin injury, was still finding it difficult to stretch his front-foot and get to the pitch of the delivery.

Thakur, whose debut against West Indies ended in a nightmare after bowling only 10 deliveries, achieved success, bowling the 11th one in the Test arena.

It was a gentle outswing, an inswing for left-handed Harris (5), who instinctively clipped it straight to debutant Sundar at square leg.

or the taking.

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Agencies
January 7,2021

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Sydney, Jan 7: Australia batsman Steve Smith said he was trying to redeem himself by putting spinner Ravichandran Ashwin under pressure on the opening day of the third Test against India at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Thursday.

Smith, who was struggling in the series before the Pink Test, played confidently with a different approach. He is unbeaten on 31 and put on a good partnership with Marnus Labuschagne (67*).

The 31-year-old batsman was bagged twice by Ashwin in the four innings of the ongoing series and so Smith decided to stay positive.

"I'm good, nice to spend a bit of time out there, nice to stitch in a partnership with Marnus. I wanted to put him (Ashwin) under a little bit of pressure which I haven't done in this series. Was just trying to hold the grip a bit tighter, I've been struggling, so I was getting into good positions today. Was good to get a couple of boundaries early. Marnus played well, hopefully, we go along well tomorrow," Smith said after the conclusion of play on the opening day.

Debutant Will Pucovski rode his luck and Labuschagne showed resolve as the duo hit half-centuries to put Australia in a dominating position.

At stumps, Australia's score read 166/2 in 55 overs. On a day when the Indian bowlers had to toil hard -- for the first time in the Test series -- 35 overs were lost due to rain.

Mohammed Siraj, playing in his second Test, struck in the fourth over to hand India an early breakthrough as opener David Warner -- returning after missing two Tests due to groin injury - walked back after scoring just five runs.

The first session saw just 7.1 over being bowled and the persistent drizzle brought about an early call for lunch as the hosts' score reads 21/1. After losing Warner early in the game, Pucovski showed great intent in front of a fierce bowling line-up and with Labuschangne for company and the two built a platform to bring the hosts back into the game.

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